Daily Commuting Tips

Daily Commuting Tips

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Daily tips to help you get the most from your commute

Over the next four weeks we will be giving you a new commuting tip every week day so you can continue to ride confidently through the winter months.

Daily Tip 19

Advice: How to commute by bike and not get lost - Cycling to work rather than driving or getting the bus usually means finding a more bike friendly route. You might not want to plump for the usual four lane A-road route to your place of work, instead you'll want to find a route which is quieter, safer and more relaxing. Here's two tips to help you out:

1. Research your route - before tackling your bike commute for the first time, it pays to spend some time doing a little research. A little pre-ride study goes a long way. You can use the traditional approach with a felt-tip and an A to Z, or you can go digital and use Google Maps or the like, taking advantage of its satellite and Street View features to pick out landmarks along the way.
2. Do a dummy run - If you're still a little nervous about your first time bike commute, ride to work on your day off. Counter-intuitive perhaps, but checking out the route when you're not under pressure will give you an idea of any hazards you need to look out for and also give you a rough estimate of how long your daily journey will take. All of this means that when you do the ride in earnest, it should be as slick as an eel.

Daily Tip 18

Advice: How to commute by bike and keep your feet dry: Commuting by bike inevitably means engaging with the elements and the hardest of our bodily extremities to keep dry are our feet. Here's some handy hints:

1. Fit proper mudguards and a mudflap - The vast majority of ‘full coverage' guards stop way too short of keeping your feet dry. You can buy aftermarket mud flaps or make your own. Another option is the ‘Longboard’ mudguard which extends much further than a standard guard.
2. Footwear Option #1 - Neoprene/Goretex Overshoes - A good option if you use narrow cycling specific shoes (though there are some models available for use over normal footwear).
3. Footwear Option #2 - Waterproof Shoes/Socks - Look for a travel/outdoor type shoe with a Goretex layer. You can also get waterproof socks. You'll still get wet shoes, though the feet inside will be dry.
4. Footwear Option #3 - Always keep dry shoes and socks at work - By far the best option. Even the finest waterproof shoes won't keep your feet completely dry in a full-on deluge. There's nothing better than changing into warm, dry footwear after your feet get a proper dousing.

Daily Tip 17

Advice: How to avoid getting stranded - In cycling, as with motoring, there's always a chance that you'll have to change a tyre or fix a problem at the roadside every now and again. However, the key is to minimise the chance of unscheduled alfresco bike maintenance, which you can do by following these simple steps:

1. Do your maintenance at home - check: your tyres for cuts, foreign bodies and inflation; your frayed brake and gear cables; the condition of your brake blocks and make sure that all the nuts and bolts on your bike are nice and tight.
2. Get proper tyres for the job - it's wise to invest in proper rubber. Look for tyres with puncture protection, thick treads and strong sidewalls.
3. Be prepared for the worst - make sure you've got the tools, spares and knowledge to deal with most roadside repairs. A bare minimum toolkit is a pump, tyre levers, a multitool (plus a spanner that fits your wheelnuts), a spare tube and a puncture repair kit.
4. Rescue Me - if you've ignored point 4 don't worry as members of British Cycling save 15% on an emergency roadside recovery service for cyclists. Find out more here.

Daily Tip 16

Advice: How to commute to work and stay cool - Arriving at work a hot, sweaty mess is no way to make an entrance. With this in mind here are our top tips to help you out:

1. Dress cool - By this we mean is dress as if it's warmer outside that it actually is. Having a number of thin layers at your disposal is a great idea, allowing you to fine tune your body temperature.

2. Take it easy - remember, commuting to work isn't a race. Slow down, find a quiet route, give yourself plenty of time and lope along like they do in Copenhagen.

Daily Tip 15

Advice: How to commute by bike and take the train - Most people associate commuting by bike with short journeys - perhaps a few miles tops. However, combining the bike and train means that suddenly long distance, door to door, car-free journeys are a possibility.

Here are some hot tips for anyone considering the bike/train commute:

1. Check out your rail provider's cycle policy and cycling facilities. Some rail companies require pre booking, others don't allow full sized bikes at all. Others have very minimal cycle storage on their carriages, others are much more accommodating.

2. Consider getting a cheap second bike for the far end of your journey. Having two bikes, one for each segment of your journey is another viable option. You can keep your ‘good bike' for the ‘home segment' while your ‘beater' bike can live at the far end of your journey. Make sure you get a good lock for both and park them somewhere legal and secure.

3. If you do take the bike on the train - do a dummy run commute so you can get familiar with your route, how much time it takes to get to the platform with your bike, and the position of the cycle carriages on your chosen route. Then, when you do it for real, the experience will be as stress free as possible.

Daily Tip 14

Advice: How to look after your chain for your commute (Part 2) -

3. ‘Dry' lube reduces the attraction of dust by using a light solvent carrier to get the friction reducing additives into the chain - the carrier evaporating once it's done its job. Be warned, the additives aren't always as effective as wet lubrication so consider using wet lube all year round. In summer, spend a little more time wiping off the excess and a bit more care applying less in the first place.

4. Check your chain ‘stretch'. This isn't actually stretch but wear to the chain pins and internal surface of the roller will make the chain longer - hence the term stretch. You'll need a chain checker to do this but they don't cost much. The simplest ones slot into the chain and measure 0.75% extension on one side (over the nominal original length) and 1.0% when flipped over to the other side. 0.75% extension means your chain is showing signs of wear - you should check out your local bike shop or the internet for a replacement. 1.0% means change your chain for a new one or you will also quickly wear out your chain-rings and cassette - a stitch in time saves... about £100.

Daily Tip 13

Advice: How to look after your chain for your commute - Looking after your chain and the other transmission components that come with it, is incredibly important to keep your bike on the road. Here's two things to do to help look after your chain:

 1. Clean your chain often and well - Use good quality degreaser to get all the dirt and old oil off. Possibly use a chain cleaner tool which comprises internal brushes and a bath for the degreaser. Clean the ‘rings, jockey wheels and sprockets too. Wash the degreaser off and dry the chain before....

 2. Lubricate the chain with a good quality bike-specific lubricant. For wet conditions always use a ‘wet' lube and for dry conditions consider using a ‘dry' lube. Wet lubes penetrate the chain and get to the crucial roller/pin interface and stay wet resisting rain and mud intrusion to the chain - but they do attract dust (so wipe off any excess). In hot, dry conditions this can lead to a ‘paste' developing which can increase friction and wear - hence the importance of 1.

Daily Tip 12

Advice: How to keep your work clothes neat and tidy and ready to wear

Getting your neat clothes into work in a fit state to wear is easy. A top tip is to look out for wrinkle-free variants of normal everyday clothes. Avoid anything that creases easily (linen is a big no-no). Travel/outdoor clothing suppliers are great for this kind of stuff – often these garments are also odour resistant, lightweight and with a small ‘pack-size’ – ideal for transporting by bike. The best way of avoiding creases is to roll and not fold clothing. It’s a common trick used by travellers the world over and it works a treat. Just roll your clothes up, pop them in a carrier bag and then inside a waterproof pannier and you’re set. It’s even possible to transport a full suit by bike. Cycling garment/pannier bags (think of a garment bag – add pannier attachments and you get the idea) like Two Wheel Gear’s excellent product mean that suddenly riding to work and a sharp dress code are no longer mutually exclusive.

Daily Tip 11

Technique: If you’ve got showers at work, lucky you! Just shower, dry, deodorise and go! If not, don’t let the lack of showers stop you beginning the day fresh and clean. There are a few tricks of the trade that’ll mean you’ll avoid being the one if the office with the embarrassing odour problem. The first is to shower in the morning before you set off, so you know you’re starting the day squeaky clean. The second is to dramatically reduce your effort in the last five minutes of your commute, to allow your body to begin cooling down. If this isn’t possible (you may work at the top of a hill or end your commute into a persistent headwind) give yourself at least five minutes to acclimatise before you begin to clean up and get changed. The next trick is antibacterial wipes. In the absence of a shower, these are your best bet for that fresh-as-a-daisy feel. Next dry off with a lightweight microfiber towel, apply deodorant, get into your fresh (wrinkle-free) clothes and you’re ready.

Daily Tip 10

Technique: When approaching a parked vehicle, check over your right shoulder for following vehicles, giving way if required before reaching the parked vehicle. When safe to do so, move out smoothly into a position where the vehicle can be passed safely, maintaining a good pace. Leave a car door’s width between you and the parked vehicle in case the door opens. Once passed the vehicle check left and right and move smoothly back into your riding position when safe to do so.

Daily Tip 9

Technique: The secondary position is roughly 1m to the left of traffic flow and not less than 0.5m from the edge of the road. Taking this position may be appropriate if the road is wide enough to allow safe overtaking and the rider’s safety is not reduced by riding in this position.

Daily Tip 8

Technique: When approaching a side road check over your right shoulder for following vehicles. If it is safe to do so, move out into the primary position. Maintain a good pace when passing the side road and look into it to check for any vehicles that may be about to turn out. Remain in this position when passing the side road, covering your brakes in case a vehicle pulls out.

Daily Tip 7

Membership: Save at least 12% at the British Cycling Wiggle Shop with British Cycling membership. As the temperature drops and the need for warmer clothes increases, save yourself money whilst treating yourself to a new purchase (or two).

Daily Tip 6

Technique: When emergency stopping, it is important to relax your arms so that at the point of braking, both brakes can be applied simultaneously. As you brake, straighten the arms to push the front wheel down allowing it to grip better and force the body weight back.

Daily Tip 5

Membership: Did you know that British Cycling Ride membership covers you for up to £10 million third-party liability insurance? So if you are in an accident that is your fault, your £24 membership fee covers you for damage up to £10million.

Daily Tip 4

Technique: The Secondary Position: The secondary position is roughly 1m to the left of traffic flow and not less than 0.5m from the edge of the road. Taking this position may be appropriate if the road is wide enough to allow safe overtaking and the rider’s safety is not reduced by riding in this position. For more info on the secondary and primary positions check out our Effective Traffic Riding resource.

Daily Tip 3

Technique: The Primary Position: Contrary to what some people often think, the primary road position is in the centre of the lane. This is where they are often safer as it is where they can most easily see and be seen. For more info on the primary and secondary positions check out our Effective Traffic Riding resource.

Daily Tip #2

Membership: Save 15% on parts and accessories (including bike lights for your commute) at Evans Cycles with British Cycling membership.

Daily Tip 1

Technique: Balance and Steering: When steering, look ahead, not at the front wheel and point your head where the bike needs to go, aim the hips and body to follow the head, and make minor corrections with the hands.